Week 5 of 10 this term – no more avoiding the fact that I am definitely half way through the course now. Where does time go? I’m beginning to wish this was a two year course. Here’s how week 5 went…This was the first week that we got to be creative – choosing our own accompaniments to the duck and cherry sauce dish from a list of ingredients. I’ve got so used to following strict recipes and curriculums to the letter that it felt quite strange to have a bit more free reign this time. As it was our first time I kept it simple doing braised spinach and little garlic roasted potatoes. The potatoes tasted good but as my teacher pointed out ‘if you’re going to do potato cubes, you need to do potato cubes’…more knife skill practice needed! This week saw the return of flaky pastry! And another chance to be creative as we chose our own tart toppings. There’s something even more intimidating when presenting your own dish as it’s an extra aspect to be judged on but I was quite pleased with how these dinky onion, red pepper and feta tarts turned out, again a relief after spending two days making the pastry base!Week 6 could also be known as soufflé week, with 3 soufflés in the kitchen sessions and a whole soufflé demonstration. Soufflés are one of those dishes that seem to have a circle of fear around them, regarded as being notoriously tricky and temperamental. That’s one of the aspects I love most about Leiths – they take dishes that I’ve always avoided trying and break them down to seem much less scary and ensure that I understand exactly why they can be so finicky to make. 3 different soufflés later and they seem a little bit more manageable!We cover so much in a single week at Leiths and get feedback on every aspect of every dish, so it can be hard to see the bigger picture and get a bit of perspective. Sometimes it’s difficult to feel like I’ve progressed at all but the dish above – sole bonne femme with chanterelles, pastry fleurons, spinach and microherbs – showed me that perhaps I have achieved something in my four months at cookery school after all! I know there’s no way I would have been able to make anything like this back in October and whilst (of course) there were aspects that could have been better it was still immensely satisfying to make this dish! Bring on week 6.